The Beer Bracketologist

I'm bracketing beer! Don't know what bracketing is? Don't feel bad; until last week, I didn't either.

Think of a sports tournament, the classic example being the NCAA college basketball tournament. It starts with 64 teams, or 32 pairs grouped in BRACKETS. The pairs play. The winner advances to the next bracket, or round. Eventually only four are left, the famous Final Four, and those two pairs play each other and then the winners of that round face off -- and a winner is declared.

So these two guys in New York are writing a book titled The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything, in which various "experts" will bracket their specialties, with the goal of determing "the best" of whatever it is they're bracketing. Chris Matthews is bracketing famous speeches. Heidi Klum is bracketing lingerie; Arnold Palmer is doing golf swings. Elvis Costello is pondering Beatle songs that were never number one. Someone else is bracketing Elvis Costello. One guy is bracketing red wine, and another one typefaces. [UPDATE: not all of these people made it into the final edition.]

And I -- drumroll please -- am bracketing beer! It's been quite the project, not least because first I had to come up with 32 beers. And then pair them up. And then taste them and pick winners of each round. I know. I know. "Tough job," you say, cackling, "but someone's gotta do it."

So you say, but I'm here to tell you that this has been hard on my poor stomach! I ran the first five rounds over two days, but today I'm still so overdosed on beer that I'm putting off the contest between my Final Two until tomorrow. And no, I'm not gonna tell you which brew comes out on top. I don't think the book's editors would be too happy with me.

But you don't have long to wait: The Enlightened Bracketologist hits the bookstores in March 2007. About the same time as the NCAA men's basketball tourney plays out. Coincidence? Or not? You be the judge!